"Ouch!" Dazai cried. In most circumstances, he had always liked the part when they tend to each other's wounds— well, mostly Chuuya tending to his, to be honest— but Dazai had never liked pain, and that's what inevitably taint most of these sessions.

Since their teenager years, if Chuuya was wounded but conscious, he could very well lick his own wounds as he once said to Dazai. If he wasn't— well, Dazai would leave the man where he was, and take such indirect measures as to ensure his safety instead. Since he wouldn't know what he might be tempted to do having to remove Chuuya's clothing while he was unconscious in order to access and tend each wound, he considered the minor cruelty an exercise in prudence, and not in lack of care.

On the opposite though, was Chuuya, who always hauled Dazai back to their hideout, cursing him all the way, and tended to him, usually being purposely harsh with his touches for revenge, and then he would change the bandages the next morning, having spent the night on the couch or at his own place if he had had enough energy to bring himself there.

Chuuya alone in the world knew the full extent of Dazai's scars, for even Dazai himself couldn't see his own back. It was Chuuya's touch alone that those wounds had known, because it was Chuuya who had tended to them, and dressed the wounds whenever it was needed.

This time though, Chuuya didn't order Dazai to remove his shirt, as he would do any other time when the wound was on the upper body. Instead he used his knife to tear the sleeve off that arm entirely.

It was for this that Dazai had cried out, because the cloth rubbed against the wound in quite the wrong way.

"Sorry." Chuuya mumbled, concentrated on cutting the cloth without giving Dazai's flesh the taste of that wicked black blade.

Red locks hid his intent face, but Chuuya's own scratch on the face was still stained with drying blood. Sweat ran down into the wound, which must be stinging rather smartly.

With his other hand Dazai grabbed a nearby soft towel and held it above the slight wound to absorb the sweat before it could cause any more pain.

Noticing, Chuuya again mumbled, "Thanks." Before continuing his work.

After a few more minutes of the grueling cutting, the sleeve was successfully removed, showing the bandaged arm within.

The bandage was removed without much further difficulty— Chuuya was more than accustomed with it, unhitching the end expertly and quickly twirling the loose cloth into a ball to be washed later.

He slowed his progress near the wound, tenderly peeling it off. Still Dazai hissed in pain. The bandage had stuck a bit to the edges of the bullet-hole.

"You deserved that— but we haven't even got to pulling the thing out yet, don't hurry with your cries."

Chuuya said with a note of cynicism, dipping the entire forceps into alcohol for disinfecting.

Then, touching Dazai's hand that's holding the towel, he said reasonably, "Maybe you'd want to put this in your mouth instead. Wouldn't want the neighbors to hear a scream in the middle of the night."

"But your wound—"

"What? You worry about this little scratch hurting? Fucking god—aren't you lovesick."

Chuuya said offhandedly, and Dazai did as he was told, scarcely before the disinfected forceps dug into his flesh to try to pull the damn bullet out.

Dazai drew in a sharp breath biting hard into the soft towel. Chuuya manipulated the forceps with a practiced hand, then stopped for a brief moment, allowing Dazai to drew another breath and brace for more. They knew each other's rhythms like the back of their hands. Chuuya stopped when the pain was reaching an unbearable peak, and begin again when Dazai was braced and ready.

Without a wasted movement, the .38 bullet was out and on a medical tray. Dazai removed the towel and threw it into the discarded bandage pile, and wiped away a few tears.

Chuuya was cleaning the forceps and stowing it.

"Stapling or stitching?" He asked calmly. Dazai knew it was coming, but after that ordeal he began to wonder if he would have energy left for anything else tonight.

He looked at the wound.

"Looks like stapling will do." The wounded man said.

"Agreed." Replied the redhead. They weren't medical experts, obviously, but years of experience and the internet teaches them something, and one of that is always to ask the other what method should be used, because then they can't blame you if the wound ripped open afterwards.

After stapling the wound and disinfecting it, Chuuya stood up and rummaged in Dazai's closet for spare bandages, found it easy enough, and returned.

"You want to take a bath first or are you too tired tonight?" Chuuya asked, seeing the rest of Dazai in his tattered and blood-stained clothing.

"Considering our plans tonight, I'd better take a bath." He said tiredly. To be honest he could collapse at any moment. Removing and stapling a bullet wound isn't such a small deal, even for him.

Chuuya rolled his eyes but knelt before Dazai.

"Let me cut the shirt off then. You wouldn't fancy having to drag your wound out of the sleeve hole I imagine."

"How considerate, chibi-chan, I thank you from the depth of my heart!"

An intentional but light impact on the arm shut him up, though Dazai was still smiling as Chuuya ripped apart his shirt down the front with a very satisfying sound.

"Alright, you can manage the rest, you pervert mackerel! Give me your hand." He pulled Dazai up with his other arm, "go to the bathroom, I'll get the towel for you."

"Care to join, chibi-chan?"

"Go before I knock your wound open again. And don't take long!"

When Dazai came out, feeling slightly more clear-headed, Chuuya was ready with the bandages. The wound on his cheek and his sweat was also cleaner, he noticed, but still seeping blood and unpatched. The redhead would do that himself after bathing, he knows.

Considerately Dazai came out with his pants on but didn't bother with a shirt. He's going to be bandaged anyway.

Starting at the wrist, Chuuya tightly wrapped the bandage around, working his way up. He made it quite tight— Dazai had never had any swelling, only lack of blood-flow sometimes.

Chuuya's touch left burning impressions on Dazai's cool skin, making his hairs stand on end. Dazai gritted his teeth resisting the urge to touch the redhead back.

Reaching the end of the arm, the redhead moved from Dazai's side to his back, starting to wrap his torso.

Dazai slapped the graceful hands away in a panic. "What are you doing!? I don't want that on tonight!"

"Damn it." Chuuya muttered. He'd been thinking Dazai had forgot all about his earlier... invitation.

Sighing, Chuuya gave up and handed Dazai the button down shirt he'd prepared.

"I'll take a bath— do you have any sizes smaller than these?" Chuuya motioned to a neatly folded pile of Dazai's clothing, and Dazai shook his head no.

Chuuya had borrowed his clothes often enough, but he don't care to stock any of the chibi's size in his own closet— he preferred the shown skin when the redhead wore his oversized clothes, after all.

"Well, worth a try." Chuuya said, resigned, and quietly went into the bathroom.

When he came out, wet red locks sticking to his shoulder, which showed under the oversized shirt, his face neatly bandaged, smelling wonderful, Dazai felt his heart skipped a beat, as it always has on countless times this happened. Only one thing wasn't right with the perfect scene.

"Chuu~ya! Can you please put on your choker?"

"Wha— It's filthy! No, you stupid pervert mackerel!" Chuuya's face was a little red.

"And I'm not doing... what you wanted either! We can... we... we can sit down to talk though... I mean— no insults for one night! Deal?"

Chuuya was tomato-red and bursting by the end of the sentence, and Dazai just couldn't resist throwing his good arm around his irresistably cute partner and planted a chaste kiss on the hot skin of Chuuya's forehead.

"Sure, chib— Chuuya. Come on, let's sit on the bed at least."

Looking like cooked tomato and a hand distractedly touching the kissed forehead, the redhead followed Dazai along into his bedroom.

It was a mess, but Chuuya thought he could clear it tomorrow morning before he leaves, so he carefully picked his way in and collapsed onto the bed.

"Wine?" Dazai asked considerately, but the petit mafia only shook his head.

"Won't be able to keep my curses back with wine in my system— but you should have some though, for the pain. Just make it milk for me."

"Strawberry?" Dazai teased.

"Plain, thank you very much."

Seeing that Chuuya really wasn't taking the taunt up, Dazai complied, coming back with two glasses and coming onto the bed with a careful mind for his new wound.

They sat cross-legged, facing each other, Chuuya hugging a pillow protectively in his lap, Dazai against the wall.

"So... this is an agreement to... go slower then?" Dazai asked awkwardly.

Another burst of steam— did someone left a rice cooker in that red head, Dazai thought idly, trying to ignore the butterflies in his own stomach.

"Well... yes. I guess so. Since that... weird episode was probably your way of confessing to me... I'll take it as such." Dazai watched with interest, and a little worry, for his partner seems like he's going to combust very soon.

"S—so, you see, I'm giving you a— a chance! Let's just... d— d— date for now, alright? We'll see if we could make it to— to— "

"Alright, Chuuya." A look of tenderness passed across Dazai's face, his finger bridged the wide gap between them, resting gently on Chuuya's burning cheeks, "You don't have to say it. I don't want my new boyfriend to combust in flames on our first date night, after all!"

"...!..." If it were possible to go even redder than Chuuya already was... well let's just say that if it were a competition, the sun itself might lose.

"So, where should we start?" Dazai said contemplatively, "I mean, we could tell each other's history by now, including things we like and hate— obviously not each other anymore, at least, I've never really hated you— each other's favourite color, movies, games, tv series, etc. etc. etc."

"Well... that's true." Chuuya shrugged, calming down a little. "Wait— I don't know your favourite color, though." The redhead frowned. He knew this leaves him at a dire disadvantage, one less thing he knew about his partner is always a dangerous thing, especially with a slimy bastard like this mackerel here.

Dazai lifted an eyebrow wickedly, "Oh, that's alright. Actually I don't know it myself— I really can't choose between the fiery red of your hair or the ocean blue of your eyes... If I can stare at them for a few years though... I might eventually be able to decide."

"...!..."

"Stop that, Dazai!" The redhead in question pouted adorably at his admirer.

"Stop what?"

"That! Saying things... complimenting me. There isn't anything I could get angry at, and...I have no idea how to deal with it." Chuuya mumbled hiding his red face.

A silence fell between them then, the normally rowdy pair struggling to find something to say. Striped of their usual insults and banter, it was surprisingly hard to interact.

"How about—"

Dazai began the same moment that Chuuya threw up his hands in exasperation. "I give up!" He declared loudly, "Keeping from insulting you is so damn difficult you stupid Dazai!"

This announcement was punctuated by a pillow thrown in the taller man's face.

Dazai blinked a few times, then a childish look of evil-incarnated twisted the detective's face. Grabbing his own pillow he chucked it at the redhead with his good hand.

Veins popped in Chuuya's head and he quickly seized another pillow.

"Oh, so that's it, huh, you shitty mackerel?"

"I declare war on you and all your kind, cute chibi tsundere!" Was the shouted reply, before pillows were thrown back and forth at the speed of missiles.

Dazai was keeping up quite well even with one injured arm, but it was starting to hurt from the impact and the exertion. Chuuya wouldn't appreciate a reopened wound, and neither would he.

So, acting on an impulse, Dazai got up to his knees and reached over for the chibi. One smooth motion, and he pulled the redhead's small figure over to sit on his lap, facing the other way. Two fingers on the head pantomimed a gun as Dazai victoriously declared, "Cease fire at once, if you want your princess to live!"

Stunned, Chuuya blinked his wide blue eyes, then the sentence caught up to him and veins popped on his forehead once more, "Who's a princess you—!"

"U-u-uh," Dazai said grinning behind Chuuya's ear, "No insults, remember? Or would you like to break our contract, princess?" Dazai crooned huskily, "I assure you that there'll be... consequences."

The breath on the back of his ear, and other hand at his waist, touching the skin under the oversized shirt, let him know at once what kind of 'consequences' might be involved. His breathing hitched slightly.

Then, as if noticing something, the redhead shifted to face Dazai, moving off his lap to kneel on the bed, his hand gently touching the sleeve of Dazai's shirt.

"It hurt, didn't it. Damn, I'd completely forgotten about it. You think we should take the shirt off to see if the wound was reopened...?"

The patient shook his head no. "I didn't feel anything rip open. And I don't feel any wet blood either. I'd be fine."

Chuuya sighed in relieve, and sat back in his former position, cross-legged opposite Dazai. If it was a ploy to distance himself, it worked. Dazai wouldn't let the chibi off the hook for long though, already he'd formulated a plan. He wasn't a genius for nothing after all.

"Ok, let's move on to the next game!" He declared cheerily. To which the redhead easily complied, "Yosh! I won't lose this time, Dazai!"

"As the winner I'll be choosing the next game. The game is… Truth or Dare!"

Chuuya narrowed his eyes at this. There was a severe disadvantage to him at this point— he could never ever ever choose "Dare," because he knows what kind of things Dazai would dare him to do, that said, there are some truths he didn't want to reveal to Dazai either, so this would be a dangerous water to thread.

For lack of cards, they were going to resort to rock, papers, scissors instead to determine who wins in each round, having negotiated the rules, the first match began;

"Rock, paper, scissors!" They recited in unison, and Dazai grinned at his hammer to Chuuya's scissors.

"Truth or dare?"

Of course, Chuuya grudgingly said, "Truth."

"O-kay... for starters, Chuuya," Dazai said looking intently at Chuuya, making the latter straighten just a little, "What did you think when I was shot today?"

Damn. Chuuya thought. He'd made a mistake playing Truth or Dare with someone as observant and cunninrg as Dazai.

"I wished it was in the head, of course."

"Your face is red, Chuuya~~ The truth, ne? It's the rule after all."

"..."

"..."

"Well I— I thought you might be dead— and I was a little worried." Chuuya said in a small voice, nevertheless heard by the other.

Accepting the answer, Dazai raised his fist as a signal to start another round.

"Rock, paper, scissors!"

Again, Dazai won. The idiot might have been able to read minds.

"Truth or dare?"

Again, the redhead chose the truth.

"Who's the best looking person in the Armed Detective Agency?"

After some consideration Chuuya went with Kyouka-chan— there's no need to let things get to the idiot's head, he justifies.

"Rock, paper, scissors!" Again Dazai won. And so it went. Dazai won so often in a row, that it seemed like Fortune has made an ominous contract with the devil himself somehow.

Tired of answering Dazai's self flattering, embarassing questions, Chuuya shouted one round, "Dare!"

And immediately, without hesitation Dazai shot back, "Kiss me," as if expecting this sudden change in the game all along.

"...!..."

Chuuya's eye twitched. But... a game was a game— and Chuuya always play by the game. He likes to win, but he would win by the rules. That's probably where Dazai and him differs the most.

Dazai using his personal sense of justice to manipulate him isn't something new. And, well, being forced to do it by the game took off some of the decision pressure.

So, laiding his hand on Dazai, shoulder, Chuuya leaned forward from his seat across the taller man, looking into his eyes.

Dazai himself seemed a little... surprised by this. As if his prepared task is something ordered on a whim, and not anticipated and expected.

Chuuya moved his face closer, looking at Dazai's parted lips, his captivated expression while looking at him, and his own breath caught.

Surely Dazai had noticed the hitch, because they were so close that the air they're breathing seems to vibrate with the closeness.

Then, Chuuya shifted his head, and pressed a quick chaste kiss on Dazai's left cheek.

"When— if I kissed you for real," he whispered in Dazai's ear, causing him to shiver, "it wouldn't be a game."

Chuuya withdrew to his former position, their eyes still locked, ocean blue to amber.

Dazai was surprised, Chuuya realized, and somehow, that made him feel a little bit more in control of the whole thing.

He raised his fist, and after a second Dazai blinked out of his tense daze and did the same.

"Rock, paper, scissors!"

This time, it seems Fortune finally favors the side of justice, because for the first time today, Chuuya won.

He stared at the result in surprise at first, then recovered and asked, "Truth, or Dare?"

"Truth." Dazai said simply.

At this, Chuuya drew a breath. He had been thinking, all this time, what kind of answer or action would he demand of Dazai when he won. And though many things flashed through his mind in anger or frustration, one question tugs at the sleeve of his awareness, incessant and demanding.

"You're really going to answer truthfully whatever I ask?" Chuuya asked again to be sure, and Dazai nodded, smilling slightly.

"Fair's fair, after all."

"It's the first time I've ever heard you say that, and do it, really. Alright, tell me,"

At this he hesitated, but the question couldn't wait any longer, and without quite realizing it he said into the silence,

"Tell me why you left, four years ago."

There it was, this more than four-years-old question, out in the open thick silence that had fell between them. Suddenly Chuuya felt vulnerable, so vulnerable that he couldn't bear to move, couldn't bear to reach for the pillow or blanket to cover himself, though he wished fervently that something was there to shelter him against the very truth he demands.

He felt like he would break, with any movement or sound. A discarded shard of already broken glass trying to keep its pathetic self together.

Averting his eyes, Chuuya raised his knees, and moved to touch each opposite arms, hugging himself tight.

Dazai didn't break the silence.

Why did you leave?

Dazai left a lot of things that day. His second life as a Mafia, his serious pursuit of death, the corpse of his friend, his other friends and acquaintances and underlings.

He'd left his history, his reputation, his respect. He'd left his very self that day.

It was freeing— and it was also so, very lonely.

But Chuuya didn't want to know why he'd left those behind. No, the question, the real question, wasn't "Why did you leave?"

The real question was, "Why did you leave me?"

You could have remained in contact, he could hear Chuuya say in his head,

You could have took me with you— I might go if you'd asked. Or you could have chosen me over that dead new friend of yours.

You could have at least let me know,

Say goodbye,

Make some empty promises,

You shouldn't have let me break myself over and over again thinking about you for four damn years,

Dazai looked silently at Chuuya now, staring at the space between them, hugging himself and trembling just a little— or maybe that was his imagination.

Idiot.

It reverberated in his brain, and he couldn't tell who it was from, him or Chuuya.

Probably both.

Slowly, Dazai moved. Chuuya closed his eyes then, and thought Dazai would run away. Break the game. Release himself from the bindings of the rule.

Instead, he felt the bed dip in front of him, and as he lifted his head to look, two long arms enveloped him in a warm, comforting hug.

"It was because, I was an idiot." Dazai replied simply.

Head buried in Dazai's chest, the ocean blue eyes widened, then tears welled up behind them and the redhead squeezed them shut again.

The shaking inhale was unmistakable though, and Dazai moved one arm to rest on top of the cool red locks, still drying from the bath.

"I'm so sorry, Chuuya."

A faint, suppressed sob. In a trembling voice, the condensed feelings of four long, lonely years,

"I missed you, idiot Dazai."